(JTA) — Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said he does not know whether his organization will ever recognize Israel’s right to exist, but cannot even think about it until there is a Palestinian state.
“When we have a Palestinian state then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. You cannot actually ask me about the future,” Meshaal said through a translator in an interview Sunday with “CBS This Morning” co-host Charlie Rose.
The full interview is scheduled to run on PBS Monday evening.
Meshaal said that he is “ready to coexist” with Jews, but that “I do not want to live with a state of occupiers.”
“We are not fanatics; we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers,” he said.
The Hamas charter expresses animosity toward Jews in contexts unrelated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cites religious text praising the killing of Jews.
Meshaal called for the right of return to Israel for all Palestinians, including those who are United States citizens, who Meshaal said “long for their home country.”
Meshaal lives in Doha, Qatar, and previously lived in Damascus.
Meshaal blamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the breakdown in the last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and laid out his conditions for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “When Israel practically commits itself to withdraw from Gaza completely and the West Bank without any settlements, and if we have Jerusalem as our capital and the return of the refugees is there, then we will reach peace,” he told Rose.
Rose reportedly pressed Meshaal on whether he would be willing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Meshaal answered “no” before his translator could speak.
On Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that Hamas is using its civilians in Gaza as human shields.
“Hamas is responsible for these civilian deaths. Hamas is not only trying to kill our people, it is sacrificing its own people quite willfully, cynically and horribly,” Netanyahu said.